Voluntary Application: University and Colleges Admissions Service

Highly Commended at the Voluntary Application Awards 2020

“As a charity, we are committed to publishing more data and insights to inform the public discussion on higher education and it’s very gratifying for the team to have our work recognised through this commendation.”

Sander Kristel, Chief Operating Officer

Who are the University and College Admissions Service? (UCAS)

We are the UK’s admissions service for all those seeking to enter Higher Education (HE). As an independent charity, we publish more than two and a half million data points a year including reports, bulletins and data that provide transparency about this process to a wide range of users and stakeholders. This free-to-use data helps to promote understanding of patterns in demand for HE and admissions to Universities.

Applying the code

Our decision to voluntarily comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics (which will now be referred to as the Code) since September 2019, provides greater assurance to our users of the trustworthiness, quality and value of our statistics. We have used the opportunity to apply the Code to our work to innovate and improve the accessibility of our outputs.

While we have always provided timely and transparent reporting on the HE admissions cycle in the United Kingdom, the pillars of the Code provide a structured and verifiable means of demonstrating our commitment to improving our data. Over 2018 and 2019, we nominated a Head of Profession for Statistics and a working group to consult on the key changes necessary in order to voluntarily adopt the Code. The work we have done strengthens our reputation amongst key stakeholders and the public as producers of high quality, useful analytical outputs.

Trustworthiness, Quality and Value

In applying the Code to our work, we are able to commit to publishing our outputs well ahead of time which enhances user confidence in the timeliness and reliability of our statistics. We also provide advanced notice of the general themes of our publications; this allows our users to better prepare to carry out their own analysis of our data and obtain greater benefit from it in doing so.

We have been able to increase the transparency of our output by publishing more details of our analytical methods. We have also increased the publication of both insight and statistical reporting, to further improve our transparency. The integrity of our data is regularly checked by a dedicated information governance function.

We publish both open format data and analytical reports and our commitment to the Code provides organisational impetus to support innovations in the presentation of these outputs. In 2019 we introduced interactive dashboards to improve our accessibility for a wider audience. These combine data visualisations with tables, using carefully designed filter and navigation menus to facilitate easy browsing and exploration of these extensive data releases.

We are committed to publishing data as part of a wider benefit to the public in support of our charitable belief in supporting progression via education. To increase value to users of our data, we routinely communicate with customers through a series of user groups and forums. We also regularly collaborating with other HE bodies to increase efficiency and consistency of methods.

We continue to aspire to further our commitment to the Code by publishing more details on our analytical methods and continuing to innovate in the visualisation and accessibility of our data.